The SuperMom1 of 13
Faster than a pimped-out minivan and more powerful than three-day-old hummus, the SuperMom is everyone's antidote to a misguided sense of self-worth and achievement. It's race day, and she's been up since 3 a.m. making healthful, allergen-appropriate breakfasts and lunches for herself, her husband and their three kids—who will go on to win their respective age categories without breaking a sweat.
If you are fast enough to catch her on the run course (you aren't), she will offer you the sincerest of encouraging words, accompanied by a homemade organic chocolate quinoa protein bar, sprinkled with the tears of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. Once the race is over and the podium hardware collected, she will masterfully clean and wrench all the race bikes, pile the works into the van and make it home in time to collect her Nobel Prize.
The Lone Wolf2 of 13
Who needs obnoxious training companions when you can train with someone who has exactly the same goals, pace, workout schedule and menstrual cycle as yourself—that is, you. Unlike the more parasitic Roadie who relies solely on the wind-shielding bodies of their host peloton, the Lone Wolf is entirely self-sufficient.
Whether due to peculiarity, or a general intolerance of other humans, Lone Wolves are seemingly far more comfortable with as much time and distance between themselves and other people as possible. In fact, they can often be spotted returning from a solo ride just as a large group ride is heading out. A common theory as to the reason for this solitary lifestyle revolves around self-imposed sadomasochistic interval sessions that no one else in their right mind would be insane enough to tackle. That, or they may possess an unwillingness to ride in anything but a 100-percent race-simulated non-drafting aero position, which makes group riding both impractical and unpopular. Regardless, a Lone Wolf might be your best friend, but if you're looking for a training buddy, don't make eye contact and move along.
The Road Hazard3 of 13
OK, we've all heard the jokes, such as, "Triathletes are as well known for their bike handling skills as walruses are for their needlepoint." We get it. But even in the ranks of the moderately pitiful, there are individuals so unwieldy on a bicycle that they bring the collective skill level down to that of drunken toddlers. The Road Hazard is good at one thing and one thing only: sitting on a saddle and going in a perfectly straight line. Looking for a good laugh? Hang around transition and watch them attempt to clip in or out of their pedals—you won't be disappointed. This rider is easily spotted, thanks to the unmistakable profile of an aero helmet worn backwards.
The Ex-Swimmer4 of 13
After spending a lifetime in the pool, transitioning to triathlon can be a natural (ahem) for any pool rat. Of course, being a great swimmer doesn't necessarily mean someone will possess equal prowess as a cyclist or runner. In the water, someone with excellent stroke technique will only require mediocre fitness to kick your ass (or face, if you get too close) so badly, you'll wonder if they somehow managed to smuggle flippers under their Speedo. But fear not, destroying everyone on the swim is all that matters to the Ex-Swimmer. Once out of T1, you'll never see them again.
The Gear Baron5 of 13
In their "normal" life, the Baron is a mild-mannered, often frugal individual with modest tastes and unremarkable style. Typically not one for flashy displays of wealth, get the Baron in a bike shop and they will spend money like Snoop Dogg on a three-day bender in Vegas. On race day, they will pull into the parking lot in a 1987 Honda Accord with a $15,000 tri bike carefully stuffed in the trunk. Also note the NASA-grade disc wheels, feather-light aero frame and tri-suit by the House of Armani—price is no object when it comes to the purchase of sport bling. After all, why train (ew) when you can buy speed? And why on earth would anyone sweat, puke or spill Gatorade on gear that collectively cost more than their house? For the Baron, although it's all about appearances, they often appear to get passed by small children.
The Motivational Speaker6 of 13
If you have an aversion to sunrises and script-y fonts, you may want to look the other way. The social media feed of this hyper-positive triathlete is laden with enough inspirational quotes and images to make your head explode in a cloud of glitter and winged unicorns. Every workout, race and bowel movement is a revelation of self-discovery worth shouting from the rooftops (or onto your Instagram feed). While it is impossible to dislike an individual so committed to the betterment of themselves and everyone around them, sometimes you wish they would get a job in deepest Siberia, writing greeting card messages for Hallmark.
The Nester7 of 13
Waking through transition, your nose picks up an amazing smell. Is it...truffles? Mussels in white wine and beurre blanc sauce? You follow the intoxicating scent to what looks like a set from a Martha Stewart photo shoot—each piece of equipment nestled in its own bespoke container, perfectly cataloged and arranged according to sport, size and color. In the middle of this organizational utopia squats the Nester, lovingly sewing a grosgrain label into the crotch of his wetsuit while morsels of bison brown on a nearby Thermador stove. The worst part is that your transition area is right next door and, in comparison, looks like it was set up by a four-year-old. The best you can do is try to make friends and hope for leftovers.
The Interloper8 of 13
Much like the Ex-Swimmer, the Interloper is really good at one sport. Typically a Roadie, they show up to a race with a kick-ass road bike with cheap aero bars attached, more for looks than aerodynamics. Equipped with board shorts and some tennis shoes, this mono-athlete is convinced their prowess on a bike will make their inability to swim or run completely irrelevant. If they manage to finish the swim without either drowning or being pulled from the water by a rescue boat, they will tear through the bike course like a house on fire, only to be passed by every man, woman and child on the run.
The Analyst9 of 13
Triathletes are notorious for their love of numbers and statistics. Taken to extremes, this unnatural obsession can lead to some rather bizarre behavior. Wearing a heart rate strap during a romantic interlude in order to monitor fitness and fatigue, for example, might be an indication that your love of data has spiralled out of control. The Analyst will always be spotted at races with a laptop nearby, in order to wirelessly upload any and all pertinent information in real time. A true multitasker, the Analyst can tabulate body fat, create navigational logarithms of a race course and do your taxes, all before you've squeezed your butt into your wetsuit. In addition to the pocket-protector sewn into their Speedo, another telltale identifier is a bruised forehead, acquired from repeatedly knocking into things while looking at their Garmin.
The IRONMAN10 of 13
For this devoted athlete, if it doesn't have the M-Dot, it's not an actual race. Being inexplicably drawn to what are perhaps the most difficult sporting events in the world makes one wonder if these individuals are somehow afflicted by some chemical imbalance. Or, are they just straight-up crazy? Nevertheless, since they are always grateful for company during their ridiculously immoderate number of training hours, they are excellent riding companions. Chances are, they will have been on the road for hours by the time you meet up, and will continue to log miles long after you've gone home for your post-ride shower and beer. Speaking of which, if you're looking for a drinking buddy, your grandmother is likely a better choice.
The Newbie11 of 13
Someone new to triathlon bears a striking resemblance to a six-week-old Labrador puppy—perky, adorable and bursting with enough destructive energy to fuel a space station. If you happen across one at their first race and are stupid enough to introduce yourself, you can expect a never-ending assault of questions ranging from what tire pressure to use to your preferred method of underarm hair removal. The Newbie will be relentless in extracting as much information from you as possible, leaving you too spent and exhausted to race, not that you had enough time left to prepare anyway. Thankfully they are easy to spot—wide-eyes peeking out from under a helmet visor, brand-new entry level bike with the reflectors and price sticker firmly attached and a vigorously wagging tail.
The Pigpen12 of 13
You may not be a Nester, but you take pride in setting up your transition area in an organized and compact fashion so as not to interfere with your neighboring racers. Enter the Pigpen. Haphazardly swinging a gargantuan army-issue duffel bag, by the time they reach you, they have taken out half the racked bikes and several small children. Once unzipped, said duffel emits a smell that hints it may contain either human remains or bovine feces. What emerges is almost equally shocking—a family-size beach towel from Fort Lauderdale, fourteen pairs of shoes, various half-eaten "food" items, a moldy floatation device and several pairs of old hunting socks. Completely unconcerned about personal space and boundaries, the Pigpen's putrid pile of crap is soon avalanching onto your tidy piece of turf. You immediately (and as politely as possible) pull up stakes and find an alternate spot, preferably next to a Nester.